Capturing the Wind for $1000

Last week, Mr. On Pasture got stuck two days in a row behind a flatbed carrying a single blade of a wind turbine. The blade, standing upright, would be taller than the peak of our roof, he explained over supper. We can't all afford such large scale wind power, but the good news is that it can happen on a much more human scale. In fact, thanks to a SARE project, Eric Andrus of Ferrisburg, Vermont created a design for a wind turbine that can be built for less than $1000 in materials. The key to this low cost, low-tech turbine is  the Savonius rotor, a design from Finnish inventor Sigurd Savonius in 1922. Imagine taking a pint of ice-cream, slicing it vertically down the middle, and then offsetting the two halves. That gives you the "vertical" way to capture wind. Eric worked with Amos Baehr to build two versions of the wind turbine.  The Mark I, was made out of wood.  The Mark II was made out of metal.  They used discarded 275-gallon fuel tanks for the rotors.  You can see a comparison of the cost and output of the two different versions to help you think about which kid you might like to build: It's been a few years since construction, and Erik's really satisfied with his turbine. On the whole, it is incredibly durable and captures the wind when it's there. The issue for his location is that there's not

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